• Broken Open

  • How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
  • By: Elizabeth Lesser
  • Narrated by: Susan Denaker
  • Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (562 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller

This inspiring guide to healing and growth illuminates the richness and potential of every life, even in the face of loss and adversity.In the more than 25 years since she co-founded Omega Institute - now the world’s largest center for spiritual retreat and personal growth - Elizabeth Lesser has been an intimate witness to the ways in which people weather change and transition. In a beautifully crafted blend of moving stories, humorous insights, practical guidance, and personal memoir, she offers tools to help us make the choice we all face in times of challenge: Will we be broken down and defeated, or broken open and transformed? 

Lesser shares tales of ordinary people who have risen from the ashes of illness, divorce, loss of a job or a loved one - stronger, wiser, and more in touch with their purpose and passion. And she draws on the world’s great spiritual and psychological traditions to support us as we too learn to break open and blossom into who we were meant to be.

©2004 Villard (P)2008 Random House

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What listeners say about Broken Open

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

The voice of the narrator did not match the subject matter. I found her voice pretentious and disconnected from the text.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous Stories...Truly Deep and Moving

Having seen Elizabeth on Oprah I was drawn to her. This book is a jewel. It is beautifully read too. This went on my Ipod and has been my constant companion for 2 days. What gorgeous stories she shares.
I have wept copious tears of joy and sorrow, and feel that she has captured with such beauty...the rich and complex experiences of life.

67 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good content; ok narrator

Elizabeth Lesser's framing of how we can learn from bad experiences should be required reading for everyone in their 20's. We'd all ignore it perhaps, but maybe some of it would stick as we mature and grow. If you have never considered what your "take-aways" or lessons learned are from really bad experiences, then read this book. Even if you understand this at your core, then read this book. I enjoy the framework that she uses especially in the last portion of the book to talk about what is possible. The parts that I didn't enjoy about listening to the book were twofold. I felt as if the narrator was talking in too "airy-fairy" a voice and was sing-songy. It made the text sound preachy and I don't think that was Lesser's intent. She seemed to modulate herself about halfway through the book, or maybe I just numbed out to the irritation because I wanted to get through the content.
The second thing that I didn't appreciated as much was the metaphor of a hero's journey that Lesser applied to her own life. I think she was trying to apply perhaps, some objectivity? But I think it came off as seeming smug or not really taking accountability for the harm she inflicted on others. Calling her extra-marital affair a journey with her "Shaman Lover", I thought was a bit affected. Come on Ms. Lesser, you cheated on your husband- simply put. Your other descriptions of what it was, were very well written and you did accept accountability, but I felt put off by some of the labels that didn't seem quite as useful as the rest of your writing.
Having said ALL of that, I still recommend reading the book, but this may be one that is better read than listened to.

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Book - Would Recommend, But....

Would you consider the audio edition of Broken Open to be better than the print version?

Never read print

What other book might you compare Broken Open to and why?

Anatomy of the Spirit, Until Today

Would you be willing to try another one of Susan Denaker’s performances?

NO. That is the reason I'm writing this review. Her voice is pretty difficult to listen too. And her child and eldery people immitations are too much to bear. They are grinding and syrupy. Takes away from the book's essence and meaning.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

I would not make a film about this book.

Any additional comments?

Again, highly recommend this book as a reader. Not as an audio book. At least until you get a new narrator.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A glorified autobiography, lacking depth

The narration was great, easy listening. And the first half of the book was interesting, informative even, but afterwards it just went downhill and I struggled so much to finish it. While the book may be helpful to many, I have listened to dozens of "self help" type of books and truthfully this is nothing more than an autobiography with a lesson that can be summarized into a paragraph or less. The author relies too heavily on the lessons of other spiritual teachers and doesn't offer any real insight of her own. Her story about her life's trials are only relatable to a specific genre and she adds far too much personal information that has no bearing on the lesson she is trying to get across. I didn't get much out of this book besides frustration, so I won't be reading it again and I wouldn't recommend to anyone either.

3 people found this helpful

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Just what I needed

This book helped to save my life, just when I was feeling like I couldn't go on any longer. It gave me an understanding about what I was going through and sparked a new hope in me so that I could keep pushing through, believing that I would emerge with a greater awareness and strength

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

belly-button gazing....

A lot of energy is expended on intensive naval gazing and flowery prose. The author's own story dominates and yet fails to inspire. Others' stories (within the book) are interesting but burdened with tortured prose. If you're looking for practical insights and fresh eyes on life, keep looking. Outliers is good for that.

11 people found this helpful

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Sweet Blessing

This book met me right where I am, in the midst of difficult lessons, and blessed me.

2 people found this helpful

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So thankful to have found this

A friend referred me to this book as I mentioned I’d be going to a retreat at Omega Institute. It couldn’t have found me at a better time and was exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my journey.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Skip it ! Nothing here

The author doesn’t have a though of her own . Quote after quote belonging to someone else .
Better books to read . Disappointed!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Pauline O Connell
  • 03-09-22

Painful to listen

This book wasn’t for me.
I think it could be summarised easily - to grow we must accept what is & that can be hard.
Long winded rambling stories going no where.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-18-22

A truly beautiful soul soothing book

I learned about this book during an interview with Oprah and Elizabeth Lesser. Opah was raving about it… I don’t usually go off and purchase anything based purely on a TV interview. Elizabeth’s take on the world and wisdom was so compelling I was completely captivated. I immediately downloaded the book on audible, over the past couple of weeks I’ve listened to grounding and reassuring wisdom. There’s such a purity to the message within that really speaks to your soul. Whatever part of your life journey you are in right now will undoubtedly benefit from Elizabeth’s wisdom. I will be referring to this book again and again.

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  • Sara
  • 03-07-21

I cried and my heart opened.

Beautifully read. But the deep bleak stories that crack open the bright warmth of life inspire me to feel more. So much pain can be squashed or converted to an easier to handle emotion, but instead when you feel that pain, embrace that pain, you end up forging a new you, a new perspective of life. And there is actual beauty in that pain. Thank you so much Elizabeth.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-06-18

essential read for everyone.

Lesser has a down to earth perspective and her life experiences are the ingredients to supporting others in looking at their own lives - she provides mystical incredible stories, as well as more regular anecdotes. Mixed with practical solutions and advice at the end. It's a real piece of art all together I found it absolutely brilliant.

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  • Stella
  • 03-09-18

A guiding lamp along life’s path

This book has to be my new favourite. Susan’s voice is so soothing in reading Elizabeth Lesser’s incredible book. It is a mixture of personal experiences, stories that will stir a smile or a tear and valuable guidance to help us find our way through the dark into the light of clarity. 10/10...

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  • Joanna
  • 05-31-16

A must read

A book that I identified with a lot. It gave ne hope and made me look at my life in a positive light.

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  • Tracey
  • 04-14-22

Don't waste your money. Lacks depth.

Sorry, I have no doubt the author means to provide light and growth to our lives but the information provided in this book is lacking in depth and is cheesy.
The narrator has zero empathy in her voice.
I could not get through the second chapter.
Much apologies to the author for this review, I'm sure she meant well but if you are considering spending money on this book, don't. You will be wasting your money.

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  • Alia
  • 06-26-21

Intrusive narration

I am struggling to finish this book or to evaluate its content fairly because I am finding the narration (or 'performance') so very intrusive and misjudged. While the narrator has a lovely voice, she uses it as if reading an extended instructive fairy tale to children. It is truly awful, particularly given that the content is largely the relating of deeply personal, intimate and consequential true life events which do not need a dramatised overlay by the narrator. I am vision-impaired and thus unable to read the book myself but would recommend that those who are interested in this book and can do so opt for reading it rather than listenibng to this version.

It is as if the narrator (along with an increasing number of Audible narrators) wants to be the 'star of the show' rather than allowing the book to be that. This tendency seems to be encouraged by Audible asking listeners to rate 'Performance' rather than 'Naration'. At least with non-fiction, I am finding that the best books to listen to are those narrated by their authors who seem moptivated more to have what they have written speak and shine rather than to show off their acting/oratory skills.

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  • Sleep Tech
  • 12-06-16

How difficult times help you grow

Where does Broken Open rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Beautiful story & narrator -- thank you. Highly recommended --- even if you are NOT Broken

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Defintiley!!!!!